Category Archives: Beers

My Neighbor, Sam Adams

Some of you might know that I am blessed to live in spitting distance of the Samuel Adams Brewery Complex in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.  This comes in handy any time a friend, family member or random guy off the street visits and wants to see the sights of my ‘hood.  Lucky for us, tours are free (and the leaders are always fantastic, avid beer-enthusiasts, like myself) and each includes three small glasses of Sam Adams finest.  While I haven’t made it to a tour since the beginning of the summer, I have continued to support the local brand at bars and liquor stores all over the greater Northeast.

Of course, I’ve already had my fair share of the Octoberfest that has been out for about a month now (and is officially my favorite of Sam’s seasonal beers), but today, I decided to try something new: Sam Adams’ Brewmaster’s Collection Coastal Wheat.  It is the newest addition to this series of Sam (first announced back in July).  Similar to other wheat beers (Harpoon UFO, Blue Moon, etc.), this tangy concoction boasts lots of lemony flavor (possibly too much)…really – no need to add extra fruit.  It’s a solid, classic wheat beer…less sweet than Blue Moon, perhaps a little smoother than the UFO (which I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not).   Try it for yourself, and let me know what you think.  It’s great to be back!  Cheers!

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Super Beers for the Super Bowl

With just days to go before the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl, I still haven’t figured out where I will be watching the big game.  The bf and I have toyed with the idea of having people over to our apartment to celebrate the end of the 2008/2009 NFL season.  In doing a little research on what throwing one of these parties takes, I went right to my favorite how-to magazine’s Web site – RealSimple.com.  I stumbled across games to play during the game, fun and easy snacks to serve that will make anyone’s mouth water, and even a decorating tip or two.  I also found a witty little list that pairs each NFL team with a beer that best represents its mascot or location.  Check out the list below…if we do wind up hosting our own football extravaganza, I will take their suggestion and provide Iron City Beer and Beermann’s Rip Roarin’ Red Ale and let guests drink to support their team.  Do you have any other (better) ideas to pair with your favorite team?  Let me know.  Enjoy the game and cheers!

super-bowl-2009

AFC Teams

Baltimore Ravens: The Raven
Buffalo Bills: Bison Brewing
Cincinnati Bengals: Tiger Beer
Cleveland Browns: Honey Brown Lager
Denver Broncos: Dark Horse Beer
Houston Texans: Alamo Golden Ale
Indianapolis Colts: Colt 45
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguar High Gravity Lager
Kansas City Chiefs: Tomahawk Pale Ale
Miami Dolphins: Hurricane Reef Lager
New England Patriots: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
New York Jets: Terminal Gravity IPA
Oakland Raiders: Rocky River Pirate Lite
Pittsburgh Steelers: Iron City Beer
San Diego Chargers: Electric Beer
Tennessee Titans: Titan IPA

NFC Teams

Arizona Cardinals: Beermann’s Rip Roarin’ Red Ale
Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta Brewing Company Red Brick Ale
Carolina Panthers: Carolina Blonde
Chicago Bears: Brown Bear Brewery
Dallas Cowboys: Lonestar Beer
Detroit Lions: Lionshead Beer
Green Bay Packers: Green Man Lager
Minnesota Vikings: St. Pauli Girl Lager
New Orleans Saints: Saint Arnold Amber Ale
New York Giants: Brooklyn Lager
Philadelphia Eagles: Yuengling Traditional Lager
San Francisco 49ers: 49er Red
Seattle Seahawks: Black Hawk Stout
St. Louis Rams: Ram Pilsner
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Old Buccaneer Reserve
Washington Redskins: Indian Wells Brewing Co. Mojave Red Beer

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Baby, it’s cold outside…

So somehow, winter has descended on Boston. As usual, it came without warning and is showing zero remorse for those of us who tend to enjoy the mild autumn months. People keep warm in numerous ways: heated seats in cars, those fancy glove warmers that skiers typically need, excessive intake of Starbucks’ hot chocolates and mocha-something-or-others, burying oneself in electric blankets, parkas, wool everything, etc. The list goes on and on. As you may have thought, I enjoy a good beer when it gets cold out. “What?” you say, “Aren’t beers cold themselves?!” Maybe so, but when sipping the right ones next to a particular fireplace or in front of a big game (or, let’s face it, anywhere with heat) it warms you up easily.

Anyone who has read earlier posts of mine knows that I am a huge Guinness Fan and will say that it is best sipped pretty much in any situation. While this is true, and other Guinness-ites will concur, I think Guinness has the perfect thickness and depth to make you frozen fingers alive again and bring feeling back into your too-exposed ears. Stouts have that way about them. Knowing that Guinness is the King of Stouts, I thought I might give another a try, just to see if it had the same warming affect.

Last night at Brendan Behan’s, one of my favorite JP spots, I ordered a Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout as I shivered in from the cold. Honestly, it did not stand up anywhere near to my love for the “King.” It was very thick and not terribly cold (I am strange, maybe, because I love all kinds of beer ice cold, the colder the better, even if people tell me thats not how its supposed to be). There was a chocolatey essence to it, but nothing overwhelming or helpful to the overall dark, even smoky, beverage. The Web site says that this beer was once exclusively brewed for Catherine the Great…kind of cool that my name is Catherine too, but I’m not sure what my namesake was thinking. Maybe she has something against the Irish, because she was missing out.

brooklyn-brewery-black-chocolate-stout

Serves me right, straying from old faithful. I must say though, the seasonal Winter Lager from Sam Adams has kept me warm and happy this past week. It’s not a stout, but it has a dark richness with even a berry taste to it that appropriately combats the brisk winds that seem to follow me around. Try it, it will not disappoint. Cheers!

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Playing Goldilocks for Pumpkin Beers

As October quickly approaches, I’ve accepted the fact that summer has turned to fall, that I will have to start breaking out the coats and boots soon enough, and that Corona’s most appropriate months have passed. From limes to pumpkins. All things related to pumpkins – pie, pumpkin spice lattes, jack-o-lanterns, and of course beer – make autumn that much more enjoyable. And I can completely understand that pumpkin + beer does not exactly sound enticing to all, but trust me, the spices and flavoring in both the beer and the pumpkin mesh in a fantastically autumnal libation. While many Bostonians might agree that the city nearly skips fall entirely, all of this pumpkin happiness gives us a reason to sit back and enjoy watching the trees change colors.

In “researching” this post, went to Trader Joe‘s and selected two types of pumpkin beer and sampled another at Alchemist Lounge. Reflecting on my opinions of each brew, I felt a lot like Goldilocks with her mooched porridge…too hot, too cold and just right – except mine was too light, too spicy and just right.

To begin, I went with the Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale. I think I would describe this as a transition beer. Its light enough to drink while the weather is still on the warm side, but still has the pumpkin accents weaving in and out at the end of a swig. I’ve been a big fan of Kennebunkport’s blueberry beer as a summery treat, but the pumpkin is okay, with the pumpkin part very understated. It was almost bitter at the end, but not sour, instead kind of like you’ve eaten too much sugar and your mouth rebels by tasting sour (or is that just a weird thing i do?) But overall, it’s drinkable and cheap.

Next up is the too spicy. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale is a little intense for this beer enthusiast. It’s on the darker side, which doesn’t always scare me off. What does scare me off is the scary feeling like I’m going to get a mouthful of cinnamon and nutmeg in my last swig (think when you sprinkle cinnamon on your coffee or if the sugar doesn’t dissolve all the way and then the last sip is chock full of spices/sugar). My bf happened to love this stuff, and I really wanted to, but I just didn’t.

And finally, my “just right” pumpkin beer: The Shipyard Brewing Company’s Pumpkinhead Ale. For me, this is it. Its crisp, like a true fall day (corny, yes, but true), sweet, spicy and beer-y. The pumpkin flavor is aromatic and consistent through every sip. And something I have not found too often, Pumpkinhead tastes just as good out of a tap as it does from a bottle. And an added bonus, it’s brewed in the great northeast (Maine).

I suppose the “moral” of this beer tale is that sometimes you want more of a spicy kick and sometimes you want something more subtle. For me, the brewnette Goldilocks, the middle-beer is the way to go. Let me know what you think about these, or if you have more pumpkin suggestions for me, share! Cheers!

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I’m a Sucker for Seasonals

I realize that I have posted at least once before about summer beers, but I keep trying them and loving them. So here are a couple more…

Recently, my go-to bottled summer brew comes from Portsmouth, NH’s Smuttynose Brewery. The Summer Weizen was introduced to me on one of the most humid, stickiest days of last summer. It’s what a refreshing wheat beer should be – crisp and light, not too fruity, and exactly what I need to quench my thirst when I’m sweating out of places I didn’t know I could (gross – sorry – but true). After a long winter, and the promise of heat coming soon, I picked up a 6 pack of this fantastic stuff and enjoyed it as I prepared all of the fans in my apartment to cool us down. Turns out it would rain for the next three days and not break 65. But I still enjoyed it.  Oh, and all of Smuttynose’s bottles have great packaging.  They feature hilarious photos from a time when my parents were my age and silly caption.  Besides beer, I love great packaging – Smuttynose = homerun!

Smuttynose Summer Weizen

I feel the need to give Harpoon yet another shout out. This summer offering is delicious and the perfect addition to summer BBQs and pool parties. I’ve been enjoying it at my new local haunt, Costello’s in Jamaica Plain, MA. While watching the Celtics win (which they’ve been doing a lot of recently – YAY!), I keep the Harpoon Summer’s coming.

Harpoon Summer Beer

Two more quick things…first, Harpoon is having another party! The Harpoon Summer Session is tonight, June 6 and tomorrow, June 7! I can’t make it (damn!) but you should definitely check it out! Second, I’ve been getting a ton of traffic recently – more than ever! So thanks everyone. I hope you keep reading and like what you see. Please let me know if you have suggestions or anything! Cheers!

Harpoon Summer Session

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Hand-Picked 6 Packs

Trader Joe’s is my favorite place on Earth. No joke. I love to grocery shop, but I could spend days in a Trader Joe’s neighborhood store. For those of you who are not blessed to have a TJs by you, it is a market that sells lots of tasty organic food, most of which is under the TJ’s name. So you won’t find your Kraft Mac & Cheese or Cheerios, but Trader Joe’s Mac and Cheese and Joe’s O’s (which I prefer to the original). Another plus is that my local TJs, in Brookline, sells beer and wine. Aside from the famed “Three Buck Chuck” aka Charles Shaw wine that is three dollars a bottle, comes in many varieties and is actually decent wine, the Trader Joe’s beer is not half bad either. They supplement their namesakes with other quirky brews from the local area. For example, Newton’s Folly cider is on the Trader Joe’s rotation. Anyway, one of my favorite ways to test the ever-rotating selection is through the pick your own 6-packs. They are letting me take one of each so I can find the beer-loves of my life, and the ones to tell you not to try! Here are the results from my most recent 6-pack.

Trader Joe\'s Hand-Picked 6 Pack

1. Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) This copper-colored creation was full of flavor and perfect for an April afternoon. Tasting very similar to an IPA, it was a little more refreshing and light. The surprisingly pleasant bitterness stuck around and I didn’t want it to leave. I drank it quickly because I think it needs to be enjoyed ice cold: as soon as it borders on warm, it’s charm is lost. It’s fizzy, but not bubbly, much like a cider. I would love it with some delicious Chinese or Thai takeout, but probably not in a bar. Definitely my favorite out of all six. Sorry to start out with the best…please keep reading!

2. Stockyard Oatmeal Stout I always like trying stouts to see how they live up to the king of them all that my beer love was spurned from (Guinness). Stockyard’s attempt fell short. It is a dark beer and it not overpowering. In fact, I think it was actually underpowered, to create a word. Tasted a bit like a watered down, “poor man’s Guinness.” It had a hint of coffee flavor, which I usually enjoy, but with the lack of aftertaste, this beer was not one of my favorites. Maybe I’m too critical of dark beers, but I know what I like and this wasn’t for me.

3. Trader Joe’s Hofbrau Bock This beer also tastes strangely like an IPA, though in a different way than #1. It was dark and pleasant to drink. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing but it was a good bock and, for the price, I would definitely buy it again.

4. Joseph Brau Dunkelweizen I don’t know what the brewers of this one were smoking when they mixed this up, but I did not like the outcome. Usually, I enjoy a creamy or bitter aftertaste when drinking a dark beer. A glorious mix of the two is ideal. However, this amazingly-named beer missed both of these marks by miles. The taste was almost banana-like, far too fruity for anything this dark. If the taste whilst drinking wasn’t strange enough, the aftertaste made me put the beer down. I refused to finish this one – something I rarely do as a poor college student. Not okay Joseph, not okay.

5. Trader Joe’s Bohemian Lager DELICIOUS BEER! This is a pretty smooth lager. It’s just bitter enough and packed with the right kinds of flavor. I noticed so sweeter undertones which complimented the bitterness. Even my non-beer drinking friend, Natalie, loved it. A good lager that a would get again…and again.

6. Anchor Summer Beer This was just disappointing. I always look forward to seasonal beers because their point is to compliment the weather, right? Well this San Fran-based brewery did not make a refreshing beer I want to drink in the middle of the hot summer months. It’s skunked flavor proved that sometimes, cheap beer tastes like cheap beer. There was very little beer flavor and it was hard to swallow. It was the flavor on the swallow that was offensive, not before it and not after it – a first for me. Drink a Sam Summer or a Harpoon Summer or a Corona! Skip the Anchor.

That’s my six-pack run down…some good, some bad. As that supply has clearly diminished, I returned to my favorite place in the world today to pick up some more beer (and food). To my happiest surprise, a new Trader Jose line of beers were lining the shelves. I picked up a light, Corona-looking 6 pack, and my boyfriend got the “Dark’ version. Cannot WAIT to try these. What would be in your ideal six-pack? Let me know. Cheers!!

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My Favorite Allston Bar: Our House

First of all, I wanted to apologize for the dry week of no posts. I’ve had an incredible amount of work and have been far too sick to want to go near my favorite libation. Now I’m back and ready to..errr…drink.

I made my way back into a social life last weekend the only way I knew how…going to Our House West, in Allston. Let me preface this by saying I am indeed an almost college grad, so I am enjoying my final few weeks where it’s still okay to enjoy Allston bars. Our House West is the choice destination for all of the “cool kids.” I’ll also mention that I am not a cool kid, but I like to hang out where they do.

Our House West

Our House is not the place to go if you are looking to flaunt your tanned bod on a dance floor, or to sip swanky martinis with the young business types. No, it’s the place you go to drink Brubakers, sit on a couch with your friends, watch a big game and play Scategories. Essentially, that sums up my Friday night. I’ll begin by professing my love for Brubakers, the cheap beer from Pennsylvania that reuses its super size bottles so we play less and get more. $2 for each 16 oz. big boy. And somehow it also finds a way to taste pretty good. OHW also offers draft Narragansett Pale Ale. Its a Rhode Island beer that my guy friends happen to be big fans of. I, on the other hand, was not blown away. Nothing about it blew my skirt up. In ‘Gansett’s defense, I was sipping my own Sam Summer at the time and anything would have a tough time following that. I must say though, I was not pleased to find that OHW was out of Brubakers. I would’ve been sincerely upset had there not been Scategories to cheer me up. The idea of going to a bar to play a board game makes so much sense to me. Our House loans out cards and boardgames to any patron who wants one. If that isn’t your kind of thing, they also have large TVs with sports constantly showing. They also have Monday night trivia (hard but fun), and Tuesday night Family Guy marathons. It’s all about the options.

As if the place couldn’t get any better, they serve food. Lots of food. With a dollar menu from Sunday to Wednesday and buy one get one appetizers and burgers all week, it surely will not hurt your wallet. I’ve also heard their Sunday brunch does not suck.

I’ve done the other Allston bars, and Our House is really just my kind of place. Good people, good beer, good times. That’s all I can ask for. You should check it out, even if you aren’t still in college. Cheers!

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